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Record Democratic/Republican Gap on Environmental Issues Appears Driven by Koch Spending

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Gallup headlined on March 20th, "Americans Again Pick Environment Over Economic Growth: Partisan Gap Over Priority Largest [Ever] Recorded." Their report showed that, whereas by a margin of 51% to 41%, all Americans place higher priority on "protection of the environment" than on "economic growth," the partisan gap on this issue is now at a record 34% of the electorate: 66% of Democrats favor the environment, whereas only 32% of Republicans do. In 2013, that was 55% to 27%. In 2012, it was 50% to 27%.

Back in 2000, 75% of Democrats favored the environment, and 60% of Republicans did, for a mere 15% partisan gap.

Between those two periods, a 14-year stretch, there was a massive money-funnel into conservative politics, operated by the largest owners of the Alberta Canada tar sands, Charles and David Koch, to attack the credibility of the growing climatological consensus, that the world is dangerously heating up due to the burning of fossil fuels, especially of the most-carbon-laden ones: coal and tar-sands oils.

In the 2012 campaign season, the Koch brothers bundled over $400 million into supporting Republican political candidates. That money came from the Kochs and from other billionaires and centi-millionaires they brought together twice a year to strategize and collect funds for Republican campaigns. According to The New York Times , on 5 October 2013, "The billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David, have been deeply involved with financing the overall effort. A group linked to the Kochs, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, disbursed more than $200 million last year to nonprofit organizations involved in the fight."

The two brothers were personally in charge of it all. On 24 September 2013, Alex Seitz-Wald of National Journal bannered, "David Koch Seeded Major Tea-Party Group, Private Donor List Reveals," and reported that, "Tax documents obtained exclusively by National Journal confirm that conservative billionaire David Koch, along with a handful of major corporations, provided the seed money a decade ago to start the foundation behind Americans For Prosperity, a conservative group that played a key role in helping to organize the tea-party movement into a potent political force. Koch's relationship with the group is no secret--he's the chairman of the board of the Americans For Prosperity Foundation." Moreover, "a donor list filed with the IRS labeled 'not open for public inspection' from 2003, the year of AFP's first filing, lists David Koch as by far the single largest contributor to its foundation."

Furthermore, on 12 April 2010, Ed Feulner, then the head of the Republicans' Heritage Foundation, headlined in the Wall Street Journal"New Fangs for the Conservative 'Beast'," and wrote that, "Heritage Action ... is poised to influence public policy debates in a way that no other institution in this country can." The Kochs had started in 1998 their takeover of the Heritage Foundation, and from 2002 onwards were putting big money into it. They also started in 2002 what they then called the "U.S. Tea Party," originally as "a project of Citizens for a Sound Economy," which was the Kochs' parent organization that became split into FreedomWorks and Americans For Prosperity. As the NYT article, previously referred to, noted about their effort to defund Obamacare, "Heritage Action ran critical Internet advertisements in the districts of 100 Republican lawmakers who had failed to sign a letter by a North Carolina freshman, Representative Mark Meadows, urging Mr. Boehner to take up the defunding cause." This was part of the Kochs' effort to replace Republican congressmen with more extreme conservatives, by challenging those Republican incumbents with Tea Party Republicans in Republican primaries, so as to force the political center farther to the right, toward fascism or whatever else may be to the right of the existing congressional Republicans. In any case, it's a form of nationalism that's based on a distinctively American "historical" mythology, which increasingly defines Republicans' views of America's Founders and Constitution, such as of the 2nd Amendment, but also of the First Amendment as being an endorsement of unlimited campaign spending being a protected "free speech" right of billionaires like the Kochs. Any person who can control hundreds of millions of dollars of political spending in a single campaign year has far more "political free speech" than a non-billionaire does, and can "out-vote" even a million people who oppose such a billionaire's nominal single vote -- the type of vote that he makes at the ballot-box. This is the reason why the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, from that Court's five Republicans (Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia, Alito, and Thomas), allows any person who controls a corporation to spend unlimited amounts of its cash to advertise for the persons and policies he wants to constitute the U.S. Government. The Citizens United decision even allows such a person to remain secret, but places restrictions on how that should be done. This, supposedly, is the type of government that America's Founders (who overthrew the existing aristocracy, which happened to consist, at the time, of British aristocrats) wanted the American public to have. (Republican Supreme Court justices generally say that they try to interpret the Constitution in its "original intent." But that wasn't its intent; its intent was the opposite. Everyone at the 1787 Constitutional Convention spoke and voted against this country ever becoming an "Aristocracy." That was their greatest fear. They even warned that the rich might spend money to sway the votes of the masses. But they couldn't come to agreement on how to prevent that.)

So: what the March 20th Gallup Poll showed was that from 2000 to 2011, Republicans who favored the environment in preference to economic growth plunged from 60% down to 19%, and Democrats plunged on the same matter down from 75% to 46%. But then, between 2011 and 2014, the Republican figure rose from 19% up to its current 32%; and the Democratic figure rose from 46% up to 66%. The Kochs are now threatened with losing the public on this key matter. And so, on March 20th, Paul Blumenthal at Huffington Post bannered, "Koch Brothers' Cash Reigns Supreme In The Battles Of 2014," and reported that despite good fundraising by Democrats, "it's still likely Democrats will be outspent by wide margins. The reason can be summed up in three words: the Koch brothers. The two billionaire industrialists, Charles and David Koch, and their dual networks of undisclosed donors and 'dark money' nonprofits, have emerged as the largest independent political force on the Republican side."

It's a brilliant business plan, which will gain them around $100 billion if it succeeds. And most of the money going into it doesn't even come from the Kochs: they're mainly just organizing and bundling the money from other billionaires, who have their own business-reasons for putting some of their excess cash into this gigantic pot.

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They're Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010 , and of   CHRIST'S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

 

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They're Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,  and of  CHRIST'S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that (more...)
 

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It could be instructive, especially for younger pe... by Charles Roll on Saturday, Apr 12, 2014 at 3:15:20 PM
What gap?  Has anyone noticed a huge shift in... by Samson on Saturday, Apr 12, 2014 at 9:00:53 PM